Live Long and Prosper? 5 Ways To Plan For Extended Longevity in Retirement

If you are a Star Trek fan, you may recognize this pivotal line from our Vulcan friend, Spock: live long and prosper. 

But saying those words won’t automatically make them true. In today’s world of increased longevity, you want to plan mentally, physically, and financially for a longer life. 

How do you set yourself up for prosperity in retirement?

Today, we’ll discuss planning for a long retirement and some critical points to consider along the way.

How to Plan for a Long Retirement

While we don’t know how long you’ll live, the CDC estimates the average man’s life expectancy is 73.2 years, and a woman’s is 79.1 years. Even though life expectancy stats have dipped during the pandemic, more people are living longer than ever before. In fact, longevity is becoming a top goal for many retirees. 

An Age Wave report from Edward Jones found that 70% of people want to live to 100 and cite it as an “ideal length” for retirement. 

Your individual life expectancy depends on several factors like your current health, family health history, underlying conditions, lifestyle habits, and more. Here are five additional things you’ll want to think about if you want to live to 100—or simply a long life in your golden years. 

1. Keep A Pulse On Your Ongoing Health Needs

If your goal is to live a long life, be mindful of what you can control, like how you care for your physical and mental health. 

Here are some ways to help accomplish that goal:

  • Attend annual physicals and keep your doctor aware of any changes in your health. 
  • Take vitamins and any necessary medications to maintain your daily health.
  • Incorporate physical exercise into your regular routine. Balance, strength, and cardio training can be beneficial long-term, but consult a doctor to determine the best plan for you.
  • Eat balanced meals. It could be helpful to check in with a nutritionist who may be able to create a meal plan that fits into your lifestyle.
  • Manage your stress. Stress can negatively affect the mind and body, and properly managing it could help you on the road to a long, happy life. 

There are many more ways you could take good care of yourself, mentally and physically—Check in with a health professional for more guidance.

2. Ensure You’re Saving Enough Money

Enough is a funny word. Since it’s so subjective to your wants and needs, it’s often difficult to determine when enough is, in fact, enough.

In terms of longevity, you might wonder if your savings are on track to sustain you throughout your retirement. 

Let’s take a look at an example. Say you plan to live until 100. 

If you retire at 65, your savings/income plan must last at least 35 years. That’s over three decades of living expenses, entertainment, travel, gifts, insurance, taxes, health, etc. Plus, you may want to factor in how leaving an inheritance or legacy may influence your savings choices. 

It’s important you understand those goals early and save for them. 

How Can You Keep Saving for A Long Retirement?

Consult this list as you evaluate your retirement savings goals. You might find one or two ways to take your investments to the next level. 

  • Max out your retirement contributions, including catch-up contributions. Annual contribution limits are as follows for 2022:
    • $20,500 for 401(k) with $6,500 in catch-ups once you turn 50. 
    • $6,000 for IRA with $1,000 in catch-ups once you turn 50
    • $3,650 for self-coverage and $7,300 for family coverage in an HSA, plus an extra $1,000 if you’re 55 and older. 
  • Make use of your company stock. 
  • Take advantage of deferred compensation plans.
  • Keep debt off your plate. 
  • Manage your spending
  • Be intentional about financial commitments coming from your adult children and aging parents. 

How will you know if you’re saving enough? Know your lifestyle goals, projected health costs, inflation, and other financial obligations. We have some insights if you are looking to save for later but want to enjoy life now

3. Decide If You Want (Or Need) to Work Longer

You don’t have to retire right away! It may be helpful for you to work part-time to supplement your income or help create a more intentional routine in your golden years. 

Trust us, sitting on a beach all day can get old after a while.

Work may bring you added purpose and fulfillment, which can improve your quality of life. Being there facilitates connecting with others, building relationships, and making an impact. 

Traditional retirement can also have adverse health effects for seniors. Many retirees become increasingly secluded and lonely without jobs to go to or people to see for a specific reason. Holding a job can help keep you active and potentially healthier longer.

Working may also open up other benefits like extended healthcare for yourself, a spouse, or dependents. This could help fill in the gaps l if you plan to retire before you’re eligible for Medicare at 65.

Whether out of need or want, keeping busy and some extra income are great reasons to work longer.

4. Know When to Claim Social Security

Just because you’re turning 62 does not mean you have to start claiming your Social Security benefits. There are three main times you can begin collecting benefits:

  • At 62—but you permanently reduce your monthly benefits by about 30%.
  • Your Full Retirement Age, FRA, (65)—you can receive 100% of your monthly benefit. Find your FRA here
  • Delay benefits from FRA until 70—you accrue delayed retirement credits and can increase your monthly check. 

When is the right time for you? You’ll have to consider the following:

  • Your additional income sources
  • If you plan to work and for how long
  • Current and projected health
  • Retirement lifestyle needs/goals

While each option has its pros and cons, delaying your Social Security benefits results in higher monthly checks for life, so waiting is undoubtedly something to consider. 

Married couples must also consider how to maximize their total available benefits, notably prioritizing the survivor benefits for the spouse that lives longer. It often makes sense to delay the higher earner’s benefits until 70. That way, you increase their monthly check and ensure a more significant survivor benefit. 

5. Consider Your Long-Term Care Needs

Long Term Care (LTC) is a significant issue many people don’t plan for. Since Medicare doesn’t cover LTC costs, you have to create a plan on your own. 

About 70% of people turning 65 will need some type of long-term care throughout their lives. 20% will need it for 5 years, and given the costs, that could put a severe dent in your nest egg. In New Orleans, this type of care costs about $70k per year. 

If you plan on living to 100, the odds of you requiring long-term care at some point are relatively high, so it’s crucial to build an intentional plan should you need additional care. Here are some ways to bridge the gap:

  • Purchase a long-term care insurance policy 
  • Allocate HSA funds to pay for long-term care
  • Increase retirement savings and other investments and earmark those expenses for future health needs.

While helpful, long-term care insurance isn’t suitable for everyone. Premiums can be costly, and since they are only fixed for a short time, you could see your rates increase significantly over the life of the policy. 

They can prove advantageous if you require long-term care for a more regular period, like an extended stay at a nursing home, regular home health aids, etc. 

Here are some considerations when searching for a policy:

  • Start looking in your mid-50s, as this tends to be the optimal time to keep premiums more affordable. 
  • Understand the fine print, like elimination periods, doctor/nurse evaluations, medical exams, where you can receive care, etc. 
  • Know your daily and lifetime coverage wants.
  • Find out the total cost (premiums, out-of-pocket, etc.)

But insurance isn’t the only option. If you think you may need long-term care, you can factor those costs into your planning and saving projections. Depending on the cost of a policy, investing what you would have paid in premiums could garner a significant bounty. 

It’s Time to Prosper

We want you to prosper into your golden years for however long you have. Make sure to contact us today to let us help you plan for your future!

Related: Is A Career Change Right For You? Top Questions To Consider Before Resigning